Wed Jun 09 01:54am EDT
Most probably felt it was an easy call for the NHL's Buffalo Sabres to suspend contract negotations with first-round selection Zack Kassian. If it didn't send a a message to Kassian, who was charged with simple assault following a bar altercation less than a week after he helped the Windsor Spitfires win the MasterCard Memorial Cup, you wonder what else would.
Sabres GM Darcy Regier is wise to stake out the high ground:
"It obviously, by his own admission, wasn't a smart thing for him to do. It caught a wave. They won the Memorial Cup. He was out with some of his [Windsor] teammates, and he's the big guy there, getting challenged and egged on, and those are things you have to learn to walk away from. You're not on the ice. You can't take that position.
"We're going to continue to work with him. I told him that on one hand there's no way we're going to abandon him, we're going to help him, but he's got some work to do on the other hand." (Buffalo News)
Regier's stance might help Kassian stickhandle through one nation's court system and another nation's immigration system. There has apparently been some bad info on the latter count, stemming from a Windsor Star report that relied on a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official whose expertise was lacking, no nice way to say it.
As noted last week in this corner, a capable defence lawyer can ensure a charge such as simple assault is tried as a summary conviction, which typically carries a fine, probation or suspended sentence, not prison time if convicted. And contrary to what some people might think about a conviction possibly keeping a Canadian hockey player from working in the U.S., it is not necessarily the case with simple assault.
Far from it. Take it away, Matthew Kolken:
"All assault convictions do not render an individual inadmissible from the United States. To the contrary, in most instances, simple assault does not constitute a crime involving moral turpitude that would have any immigration consequences.
" ... The Sabres would be best served to get Kassian's Canadian criminal defense attorney in touch with a United States immigration attorney that has experience in inadmissibility issues prior to entering into any plea negotiations." (groundreport.com)
Kassian is innocent until proven guilty, but it seems important to clear up what could happen in the event of a conviction.
The kicker is that the breaking off contract talks might actually help Kassian in a plea negotation. It could be used to show he has faced real-life consequences for his actions beyond what a court might levy, which might help with getting leniency. His celebrity in Windsor might also help (cue the predictable whining about a double standard, but courts are about redressing a wrong, not wrecking someone's ability to earn a living).
There's evidence Kassian has to work out some issues, like the rest of us. Having trouble entering the U.S. likely will not be one of them.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.